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There are four requirements.

  • Tell us what you seek to get out of this program in 300 words or less, explaining how you’ll personally benefit from this opportunity. Have you previously encountered any specific ways in which the publishing industry was inaccessible to you? If someone is nominating you, they’ll write this section.
  • You need a one-page letter of support from someone who can vouch for your capacity to deliver the work. If you’re being nominated, this letter is optional and can come from the person nominating you, or someone else.
  • You need to provide a brief summary of your writing sample (maximum 200 words). This may include the inspiration, the context of the sample in relation to the full work, or anything you'd like the judges to know about your work.
  • You need to provide a writing sample. For fiction/non-fiction prose, 10,000 words of a book-length work-in-progress (with 10% leeway either way, i.e. a minimum of 9,000 and maximum of 11,000 words); for poetry, 10–15 completed pages with a view to producing a book length work of poetry (i.e. over 50 pages), not a chapbook; for a graphic novel, 15–30 pages of a work-in-progress. For hybrid works, or those not covered here (e.g. a verse novel, or a work that mixes prose and poetry) please contact us to discuss the preferred sample length.

Full details are on the application page.

The support letter should be written by someone who knows you well, and who can vouch for your commitment to writing – and your ability to complete your manuscript during the specified timeframe of The Next Chapter. It could be an employer, an educator, a mentor, a member of your writers’ group, or a relative or friend, but make sure it’s someone who has witnessed your work habits and practices.

In addition, the fact that you can submit a work sample that meets the word count requirement suggests you’re the right person to apply.

All applicants will be considered, but remember that The Next Chapter aims to celebrate writers who reflect the diversity of Australian identities and experiences, and to offer opportunities to writers from marginalised communities. As such, the recipients in any given year will include writers from a diversity of backgrounds.

We recognise all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to): First Nations people; refugees and asylum seekers; people with disability*; sexually diverse writers; writers of any gender, including non-binary or genderqueer; writers from regional and remote areas; and writers from socio-economically, culturally, and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

* We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction).

No, this program is open to all writers aged over 18, and applicants of all ages are encouraged to apply.

Fiction and non-fiction works for readers aged 13 and above are eligible. This includes works of memoir, biography, history, narrative non-fiction, verse novels, novels of all genres, and collections of short stories or essays by a single author. Illustrated works, including graphic novels, are eligible, provided the writing sample meets the stated requirements. Poetry is also eligible.

Ineligible works include: academic textbooks, self-help books, books for children under 13, plays and film scripts.

In the context of this program, the definition of a book-length work varies across genres:

  • For fiction or non-fiction prose, we consider book length to comprise at least 50,000 words;
  • For poetry, any work over 50 pages;
  • For graphic novels, any work over 40 pages.

Your writing sample may be made up of excerpts – but you should be sure that it offers a sense of the subject, tone and style of your work, and that at least 75% of it consists of the work you intend to develop as part of the program. You can outline or explain this further in your 200-word summary.

Your sample can be made up of a combination of works – but the majority of the sample (at least 75%) must consist of the work you intend to develop as part of the program. Please do not include a synopsis or summary with your sample – the 200-word summary field can be used for this purpose.

There are no compulsory formatting requirements. However, we recommend using 1.5 line-spacing, 12-point type, and Times New Roman or a similar easy-to-read font. Please do not include your name on your sample.

Your work sample must be presented in English. Bilingual editions where one of the languages used is English are also eligible.

Yes, as long as the sample you submit either meets the required word count for prose, or the page count for graphic novels (15–30 pages of a work-in-progress).

No. The Next Chapter is awarded to individual writers. Joint applications are not permitted, and proposed projects submitted for the program must be individually-created works. Co-written prose and poetry and co-created graphic novels are not eligible.

No, you don’t need any specific education qualifications or a record of previous publication to apply.

Yes. Given this program is in part dedicated to writers who’ve had trouble breaking into the publishing industry, yours will be a harder case to make – however, we recognise and support the need for published writers to continue to build on their work and career longevity, so we’re open to hearing about what you feel you have to gain from this program. You can incorporate some published work as part of your sample, as long as it doesn’t make up more than 25% of the work.

Yes. In fact, you can enter the self-published work as your sample if that’s the project you’d like to develop further as part of the program.

Yes, but we'll ask you to withdraw your book from submission with publishers if you are chosen for The Next Chapter. If your work has already been accepted for publication, or you are currently under contract with a publisher, you are ineligible to apply.

Only if that contract is for a previous work in a different form or genre than your Next Chapter entry. Contact us for further clarification or to check your specific circumstances.

Just as we ask you to withdraw any current work from submission with publishers if you are chosen for The Next Chapter, we’ll also ask you to defer any current agreements or contracts with agents for the 12 months of the program.

It makes no difference to the judging process. Nominations are an option in order to encourage writers who aren’t necessarily inclined to put themselves forward. Applying for yourself is absolutely fine too, and encouraged.

Yes. There is no limit to the number of writers you can nominate for The Next Chapter.

We do – but you'd need to be back in Australia in time for the start of the program (January 2024). Ideally, some elements of the program (workshops, training and other aspects of the mentorship) will be carried out in person rather than online – so people living overseas for the duration of the year-long programme would be at a disadvantage.

Yes. Travel commitments are not a compulsory requirement for The Next Chapter participants if personal circumstances preclude such activities.

We may be able to tailor a mentorship around your specific needs. Just outline your circumstances in the space provided (‘Anything else?’) near the end of the application/nomination form.

No, it’s free to apply.

If you've applied in a previous year, you are permitted to enter again – but not with the same 10,000-word sample of writing, unless it’s been substantially reworked. If you are submitting a reworked version of the sample you submitted in a previous year, please use the ‘Anything else?’ field to indicate how the work has changed.

The four successful recipients will be announced in October 2023. All applicants will be informed of whether or not they were successful via email prior to the public announcement.

Unsuccessful candidates will receive a standard notification. Unfortunately, we are unable to enter into any correspondence on the decision.

Mentors will be selected on the basis of an initial consultation with, and input from, each participant. All mentors will be chosen based on a combination of: 1) their prior teaching, writing or mentorship experience, 2) their suitability and expertise as it pertains to the recipient’s work, and 3) their availability.

We will certainly invite your input on the best mentor for you, but the final match will be made by the Wheeler Centre in collaboration with each recipient, based on suitability and availability.

We will consult with you over the choice of your mentor and endeavour to match you with someone you feel comfortable with – even if they’re not always your first choice.

You will meet with your mentor, either in person or online, at least six times across the 12 months of the program. We will endeavour to arrange for you to meet your mentor at least once in person, depending on your location and theirs.

The $15,000 in funds for each writer will be transferred in three payment instalments: at the beginning of the program, on mid-way review, and on completion of the program.

No. The Next Chapter is in part set up to invest time in writers who may not have had a publisher back them before for various reasons. We aim to help each participant complete a finished work by the end of their year-long mentorship. By the end of that process, we will work with the writers to identify the best publication outcomes for their work, including introductions to publishers and agents. It may be that not all participants secure publishers immediately; part of the intention of the program is to give writers time and space to devote to their work regardless of commercial outcomes.

Yes. All information shared in the application process will be kept private, only to be shared internally amongst the assessment panel and judges. Any entrant data shared with stakeholders will be deidentified and general in nature.

Yes. Please apply under your own name, and note in the ‘Anything else?’ field that you wish to write under a pseudonym.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.